We all know that millennials are entitlement-oozing, spoiled, special snowflakes, who need to grow up, get over themselves, and get a damn job.
[rebelmouse-image 19533104 dam="1" original_size="700x364" caption="And need to cool it with those damn selfie sticks. Photo by Marco Verch/Flickr." expand=1]And need to cool it with those damn selfie sticks. Photo by Marco Verch/Flickr.
But ... science just won't stop telling us we're wrong about that.
A new study, which will be published in the journal "Psychological Science," found that even after all those participation trophies, helicopter parents, selfies, Insta-pics, and snappy chats, young people these days are ... basically no more self-absorbed than young people 30 years ago.
Or, most likely, young people 30 years before that, according to the study's authors.
The researchers surveyed the scores of tens of thousands of college students who took the Narcissism Personality Inventory test between 2000 and 2017. The average student scored between 15 and 16 on the 40-point scale, a slight decrease from their peers in the 1990s.
"There never was a narcissism epidemic, despite what has been claimed," lead researcher Brent Roberts, psychology professor at the University of Illinois, said in a news release.
Recent research has increasingly found that elevated self-regard is simply a developmental hallmark of adolescence.
"We have faulty memories, so we don’t remember that we were rather self-centered when we were that age," Roberts explained.
A 2013 study found that a common teenage brain process that increased self-centeredness also boosts information retention, allowing young people to learn faster and hold on to memories better than adults.
While we were busy self-esteem-shaming them in the pages of magazines, millennials were getting up to some pretty selfless stuff.
The Millennial Impact Report, published in 2015, found that 70% of that generation volunteer, and more than 80% report giving to charity.
Some of them are criss-crossing the United States trying to make it easier for people to vote.
Others are breaking new ground in infectious disease research and bringing award-winning science and medicine to rural regions of the world.
Still others are campaigning for racial justice and attempting to build a more equal, less violent society.
If that's where being lazy, entitled, and self-absorbed leads, perhaps other generations should follow. Getting a selfie stick would be a good start.